RICEVILLE | Northern Iowa Grain Processors, located one mile south of Riceville, continues to expand in the processing of non-GMO grains and organic grains.
In 1990, Joel and Linda Yorgey, owners and operators of the plant, moved to North Iowa from Pennsylvania. Their plant has grown from a small portable grain roaster to an operation that process over two million bushels of soybeans a year.
Much of the innovation found throughout the plant was built by Joel and his employees. Now the Yorgeys are traveling to Belize, a developing country in Central America, to help set up a similar operation.
The Yorgeys’ daughter, Marissa, was on a mission trip to Belize, when they couple visited her. During their stay, Joel began visiting with a livestock feed producer and discovered the small country had no soybean processors within its borders, so he and Linda took on the challenge of helping the feed producer develop a soybean processing plant.
“In Belize, grain farmers were having marketing problems, because there wasn’t a soybean plant in the small country, and they were importing their soybean meal from Mexico,” Yorgey said.
Now with their assistance, a plant has been developed so local farmers have a market for their beans and also profit from having access to soybean meal for their livestock feeds.
In Belize, there are two growing seasons, allowing farmers to raise two crops. The summer crop is corn, which is planted in April and harvested in September, and winter crops (soybeans), which are planted in early December and harvested in March or April.
“They do not get as high of yields with corn yielding about a 100 bushels per acre,” Yorgey said, “and soybeans about 30 to 35 bushels per acre, but they harvest two crops a year.”
To date, the Yorgeys, who have no financial ties to the Belize plant, are simply acting as consultants on the project. They have made four trips to help in developing the soybean processing plant, that is now up and running.
“In Pennsylvania, I farmed with my dad, and older brother,” said Yorgey. “While there, it became apparent, to us, the city was coming to the country and the community didn’t like livestock smells. I wanted to stay in agriculture, and knew we had to move to the Midwest to do that.
“I was doing a lot of roasting for dairy cattle, and northern Iowa was a good location for dairy herds. I have two cousins in this area, and I believe God had a part in our moving here, too.”
Yorgey said he used to do grain roasting in Pennsylvania and when he and his wife came here, in October of 1990, “I had a portable grain roaster and traveled from farm to farm roasting grain for livestock,” Yorgey said. The portable roaster was mounted on a truck with a generator, 500-gallon LP tank, and augers.
Around 1995, he and Linda realized they needed to add to their roasting, so they began building the present plant.
Since the plant’s original construction, the Yorgeys have continued to expand the plant capacity. Today, the plant processes up to 6,800 bushels of beans a day and around two million bushels a year.
Unlike many commercial soybean processing plants, the Yorgeys’ plant does not use any chemicals to extract the oil from the bean, but, instead, it uses a mechanical process to produce the oil and bean meal.
The plant only processes non-GMO beans and organically produced beans. The plant’s system is flushed each time the production line changes from extracting non-GMO beans to organic beans and visa-versa.
Out of a bushel of beans, Yorgey is able to get one gallon of soybean oil, and 47 pounds of bean meal.
“Our bean meal goes out at 46 to 48 percent protein, but it also averages five- to seven-percent fat, which makes it a higher energy protein than regular bean meal, which averages one percent fat,” Yorgey said.
The plant is a non-GMO verified plant, set up for testing and running samples of the soybeans, the oil, and the soybean oil meal every two hours.
“We later send the samples to an independent lab in Memphis, Tennessee,” Yorgey said. “This lab becomes a third party verification for us. We also are certified Kosher.”
Yorgey said a lot of farmers, in this area, have gone away from GMO soybeans and he get soybeans from them. His soybeans come from producers in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri.
“I can’t understand why farmers won’t grow organic grains when organic soybean prices are two times the regular bean prices,” he said, “and non-GMO soybeans bring about a $1.50 a bushel more than GMO beans. Organic corn prices are more than double what regular corn sale prices are.”
Yorgey said GMO crops out yield organic crops, but stated organic soybeans can yield from 40 to 60 bushels per acre, and organic corn can yield up to 160 bushels per acre. Organic farming does require more trips over the field for tillage, but there is a great savings in chemicals.
Today, organic soybeans are selling for $18 to $20, per bushel. A drawback to organic certification is that a field must be chemical free for three years before it can be certified organic.
“Today, foreign countries are shipping in organic grains, because the U.S. is lacking three to five million acres of organic grains,” Yorgey said, “and we can’t keep up with the growing demand.”
Yorgey said “I couldn’t do this without my 12 employees. Most of the employees are from around Riceville and many farm. We run the plant 24 hours a day four to five days a week. Most of our employees know how to perform maintenance and rebuild machinery when it’s needed.”
Two of the main plant employees are Camille Schwarke, office manager, tests all the loads of beans, and Nate Gillen, plant operation manager.